CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Cookson, Jason Mantzoukas, Rupert Friend, Toby Jones, Dylan O’Brien, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Liz Carr, Kae Alexander, Tom Hughes, Joana Ribeiro, Wallis Day, Raffiella Chapman
RUNNING TIME: 106 mins
BASICALLY…: A man (Wahlberg) discovers that he is part of a group of people who can remember past reincarnations…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
By pure chance, director Antoine Fuqua has two films out in the UK this week: the pretty decent Netflix thriller The Guilty, and now Infinite which is being unceremoniously tossed onto Amazon Prime Video after its US debut earlier this year on Paramount+ (which is due to be launched over here next year). However, before you start decrying this decision and bring out the whole “every movie deserves a chance” argument, there is a darn good reason for the film’s muted British release: it’s bloody awful.
In the shock to end all shocks, the movie that currently sits at 16% on Rotten Tomatoes – by far the worst rating of Fuqua’s career – and has been slated by pretty much every critic and audience member in the land, is not that good of a movie. It is, in fact, shockingly inept, especially with the cast that it has, the budget that it has, and a director whose much more mediocre outings feel way more comprehensible by comparison.
The plot – in the loosest of terms, because the movie really has a very thin structure to its name – is about a group of people known as Infinites, who have the ability to remember their past incarnations, and over centuries have dedicated themselves to protecting humanity. However, a sect of Nihilists have broken off from the main Believers, wanting instead to destroy the world so that they will have nothing left to be reborn as, using something known as the Egg to wipe out all living things. The Believers’ only hope is in a guy named Evan (Mark Wahlberg), who is really the latest incarnation of their hero Treadway, and is now being targeted by the Nihilists’ leader Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who will stop at nothing to find the Egg first – which, unless Evan can access his vast memories of lives once lived, is a very likely possibility.
The thing about Infinite is that you can certainly see where a movie like this could work; with its themes of reincarnation, a narrative spanning hundreds of years, and taking place in numerous international locations, there is plenty of space for all of this to be morphed into a thoughtful, interesting and entertaining sci-fi epic. What we get, though, is an incredibly generic modern-day action movie with no thought or artistic merit put into it whatsoever, where endless exposition replaces any sense of character, set-pieces are marred by pretty poor CGI, and scenes are loosely stitched together by rapid-fire editing which threatens to discombobulate the viewer into submission. By the climax, you will still have absolutely no idea what the movie is supposed to be about, nor why you should care about any of it, because the movie does such a poor job of setting up its world and its lifeless characters that you even begin to understand the villain’s plot to destroy everything, since there doesn’t seem to be much to this place to begin with.
In fairness to Fuqua, though, no director could possibly work wonders with this atrocious script, which follows a plot that makes less and less sense as it goes along, pulls new developments out from where the sun doesn’t shine (characters can suddenly, for all intents and purposes, use the Force without any training or even build-up), and looks for any excuse that it can to drop paragraphs upon paragraphs of exposition into its dialogue, instead of actually giving any of the characters some kind of development or dimension. The script is attributed to Ian Shorr, who has at least four others features credited to his name, but here his writing comes off like a first-year screenwriting student trying to create their own version of The Matrix, and completely misunderstanding the necessity of creating characters that audiences will want to watch go on this three-act journey. Infinite is also based on a novel called The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz, who I can only imagine is none too pleased with this studio adaptation which, for all I know, could be a situation like last year’s equally awful Artemis Fowl where the movie gets things so wrong it’s like a slap in the face to the original author.
The actors also look about as lost as the audience, with people like Mark Wahlberg delivering very wooden turns spouting some of the most trite dialogue they’ve ever uttered – one character, who happens to be disabled, tells another person with a straight face that “you’re the cripple… crippled by your cowardice” – and others, like Jason Mantzoukas who shows up later in the film, feeling like they just came from a much more interesting movie. It is left to Chiwetel Ejiofor to feel like the only player who knows what kind of dumb movie he is in, in a role that lets him chew(etel) scenery left and right with a vague African/possibly European accent that he shouts every other line with. His antagonist is more weird than he is intimidating, because he is shown at one point getting his kicks by being waterboarded in a church, and later is shown torturing Toby Jones (in a pointless role that could have been played by anyone) by shooting arrows into his hands and force-feeding him honey; he’s like a Roger Moore-era Bond villain who’s stuck in this really lame action movie that is otherwise completely free of camp.
If there was one redeeming quality of this film, it is that Ejiofor’s over-the-top performance provides the lightest of unintentional entertainment. Otherwise, Infinite is completely wasteful of not just an intriguing premise, but a capable cast and crew who are so much better than the material that they have been given. Nobody looks thrilled to be in this movie, and no-one is likely to be thrilled upon watching it, since there is such little genuine entertainment to get out of this (aside from, once again, Ejiofor hamming up a storm) that you can get much more fun out of planning your next trip to the supermarket while this needlessly plays in the background.
At least there’s one good Antoine Fuqua movie also out this week – and it certainly isn’t Infinite.
SO, TO SUM UP…
Infinite is a horrific waste of an intriguing sci-fi premise and a talented cast and crew, which are all laid bare by an incomprehensible script that is laden with plot-holes and endless exposition, unmotivated performances ranging from wooden to hilariously over-the-top, and zero artistic merit to any of its mind-numbing action.